Perceptions aren’t everything in politics… but…let’s look at UK polling February 8, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Conservatives: 42% (no change from Guardian/ICM two weeks ago)
Labour: 27% (up 1)
Ukip: 12% (down 1)
Lib Dems: 10% (no change)
Greens: 4% (down 1)
Conservative lead: 15 points (down 1)
That new dawn after Brexit for the British left appears as far away as ever. Labour’s position is lamentable and considerably worse and by quite some distance than it was before the Brexit referendum (the gift that keeps taking that is).
But hold on, I hear someone say, how much worse? Well, consider that ICM/Guardian in January of last year had Tories on 40% and Labour on 35%. There was quite some variability in other polls, particularly as the referendum drew nearer, but the massive leads that the Tories now enjoy had not opened up with any real consistencey.
Note too the remarkable tenacity of UKIP, still holding on to 12% of the vote. Put that together with the Tory vote and that means currently you’ve got a right and hard right vote of 54%.
But perception, as mentioned in the heading to this post. What of that?
ICM also asked some questions about when people expect to see a Labour government, and they show the party falling back a little since September. Here are the figures.
Asked how soon they expect to see Labour return to government, people replied:
At the 2020 election: 15% (was 16% when ICM asked the same question in September)
At the 2025 election: 18% (was 20%)
Total by 2025: 33% (was 36%)
At the 2030 election: 13% (no change)
At the 2035 election: 3% (no change)
At the 2040 election: 2% (was 4%)
Later than this, or never: 10% (was 6%)
Don’t know: 39% (was 37%)
That is deeply disturbing.
What is most puzzling about all this is a basic reality. After the previous UK General Election and the loss of Scotland for the near to (possibly) medium term by the BLP it was clear that from that alone that the party faced a massive challenge to bid for state power. Indeed very possibly that loss (outside perhaps a coalition with the SNP) might lock it out of power for a generation – and should Scotland gain its independence, well that would be a whole new ball game.
Yet, Brexit, as was near inevitable given that it was a process initiated and managed by the Tories at the prodding of the further right, could only serve to exacerbate the problems the BLP faced, sharpening divisions within the UK between its constituent elements, dividing the working class as reaction played to deeply problematic issues that again would run in rightwards and far rightwards direction and all this on top of a new, somewhat radical, leadership facing profound (and unfair) internal division in the party.
The idea that this could ever be a left moment appears when that balance, or rather imbalance, of political forces is detailed, to be a triumph of hope over reality.
And I think this casts Corbyn’s seeming lack of enthusiasm during the referendum in a slightly different light. He, I would suspect, was well aware that whatever way this played out was going to be profoundly difficult for the BLP and for the hopes of those who wanted shot of the Tories.